Welcome to the first blog post in a series in which the artists involved in Neverwhere talk about Neil Gaiman and his weird and wonderful world. Actor Sarah Taurchini will be playing Door in the production that opens August 16.
When my mother found out I got the part of Door in Rorschach’s production of Neverwhere, she was thrilled for me since, as she put it, he’d been my favorite author since I could read. That’s not strictly true. I’ve been reading since I was five, precocious little child that I was, and I believe I encountered my first Neil Gaiman novel in American Gods, which was first published in 2001, at least 10 years later. I grabbed the hardcover copy at the library, as it was pretty rare back then to get ANY sci-fi/fantasy books at my library back then, let alone a new one and one that drew me in with the blurb.
Needless to say, I devoured the novel pretty quickly. I hit the bookstore and bought everything of his on the shelf (except the Sandman comics—I couldn’t afford them at the time on a babysitter’s inconsistent salary, but they would come later) and devoured those, too. I encouraged all my friends and family to read it. I made sure that students at my high school could read it to fulfill their summer reading requirement.
Fast forward to August 2007: my mother tells me about a month before I’m going to return to Georgetown for my senior year that she’s been diagnosed with breast cancer. She adamantly refuses to let me take a semester off to take care of her. When I get to campus and start to unpack, I find she packed me a wrapped copy of Neil’s latest, a collection of short stories and poetry titled Fragile Things. As melodramatic as it sounds, I was pretty depressed (and, dare I say) fragile at the time, but no matter what story or poem I chose to read on any given day, I found solace in that book. Later that year I made a 30-minute solo performance out of one of the stories “15 Painted Cards from a Vampire Tarot” for a senior project.
So, cheesy and cliché though it may be, Neil Gaiman helped me get through my teenage years, my mother’s cancer, and depression. He helped shape my ideas about what art is—as he works in every possible medium he can—and what literature is. He shaped how I think about storytelling (and seriously, try to find a better storyteller alive today—you can’t). He helped me define myself as a storyteller, rather than strictly an actor, dancer, writer, etc. I joined Twitter to follow Neil Gaiman. He made me believe that to move people with a story or song or poem or play is a worthwhile endeavor and contribution to the world. He inspires me, to do more, to be more.
I guess if I had to choose, I’d say American Gods is my favorite work of his, because, as they say, you never forget your first. And Fragile Things will always be very important to me for the reasons stated above. As for Neverwhere, I remember staying up until 3 in the morning to finish and feeling the ache of incompletion when I did. When I reread it, I still want it to reach a different ending. It’s similar to the way we know Romeo and Juliet both die in the end but maybe this time we read it they won’t. I still wrestle with whether Richard and Door end up together, whether Door finds her sister, how Richard grows into his life and role in London Below, what new tricks the Marquis can get up to. Maybe someday Gaiman will write a sequel. I can only hope he does. But playing Door is probably the next best thing, and I couldn’t be prouder or happier to be doing it.